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City Announces Landmark Pay Raise Initiative for Early Educators in City-Funded Programs

News Release

San Francisco, CA — Today, Mayor London N. Breed announced a new initiative by the San Francisco Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) to invest up to $60 million annually to advance pay raises, increase benefits, improve working conditions, and support educational attainment for San Francisco's workforce of over 2,000 City-funded early educators. These programs serve over 6,500 children ages 0-5 every year.  

This is the first early childhood educator wage initiative of its kind in the nation. This investment will enable educators to be more fairly paid for their crucial work, and also help attract new, quality educators to the field. It will raise each early educator’s salary by approximately $8,000 to $30,000 annually. By 2025, San Francisco intends to support a living wage of no less than $28 an hour for all early educators in City-funded programs. This program is funded by a Commercial Rent Tax that was passed by the voters in June 2018 with funds dedicated to serving early childcare programs in San Francisco.   

"San Francisco needs to do more to support children and families, and that includes attracting and retaining the early educators who do the critical work of caring for our youngest,” said Mayor Breed. “We know early childhood experiences lay the groundwork for later success in academics and beyond. This initiative, and all the work we are doing around transforming early childcare, is about providing the support for early childhood experiences that will help us improve our City's future and the lives of everyone here." 

 “San Francisco is on its way to become one of the first major cities to offer a universal early care and education system. Compensating early educators with fair, dignified wages is one of the basic building blocks to make our vision possible. The future of our economic recovery depends on the stability and strength of this essential workforce. While this initiative is long overdue, our commitment is stronger than ever," stated Supervisor Myrna Melgar. 

“San Francisco voters understand the important work our early care and educators provide for our children 0-5, yet are not unrecognized with the low wages they receive. That is why they voted to change this by passing the Proposition C, Early Care and Education for All Initiative, in 2018. This makes it possible today to increase compensation for these early care and educators, closer to what they deserve. I am proud to be a part of this effort that makes San Francisco a leader in the country to recognize the professionalism our early educators provide,” said former Supervisor Norman Yee.  

The City’s Office of Early Care and Education (OECE) and First 5 San Francisco will soon combine to form the San Francisco Department of Early Childhood (DEC). Through legislation being introduced at the Board of Supervisors, DEC will be enacted as the sole City department dedicated to the health and well-being of children from birth to age five, their families, and those who care for them.  

"When early educators are fairly compensated and have the resources they need, children thrive," says Ingrid Mezquita, Executive Director of OECE. "For too long, society has undervalued the critical role of early educators, a workforce primarily comprised of women of color. Increasing wages for early educators will ensure that the people who care for our youngest children can continue to provide them with high-quality care and education." 

The Workforce Compensation Initiative is the culmination of a robust community engagement and co-design process centered on early educators' priorities and experiences. It builds on the success of its predecessor, OECE’s Compensation and Retention Educator Stipend (CARES 2.0) program, which has provided $30 million in stipends to early educators working at city-funded Family Child Care programs and centers since 2019. 

Alongside an increase in wages, the City will continue to provide funding to programs to improve workplace conditions for early educators, resulting in improved teacher job satisfaction and well-being. The City will also significantly expand eligibility for City-subsidized enrollment in high-quality Early Childhood Education programs serving children ages birth to 5, bringing greater opportunity and affordability to working- and middle-class families. 

"From unifying all services and resources available for families with young children into one accessible department and prioritizing policies and investments that put resources in the hands of those who care for our city's children, this new plan to support the early childhood field takes San Francisco to the next level in wraparound services for our youngest residents and their parents," said Theresa Zighera, Executive Director First 5 San Francisco. "San Francisco's Early Childhood strategy is a model for any City serious about making the early years matter." 

The first five years of life set children up for long-term success. The City will continue to advance its Early Childhood System to promote access to high-quality services and support for all families, focusing on those with the greatest need to ensure that San Francisco’s children, families, and providers have everything they need during these formative early years.  

OECE will be reaching out to all programs eligible for the additional compensation to provide instruction about next steps and additional information. To find out if your program is a City-funded program, or to learn more about how to become a City-funded program, visit www.sfoece.org

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Mayor’s Office of Communications